i blew up my flan

April 23rd, 2008 · 44 Comments

but not on purpose.

you see, i followed the rick bayless recipe word for word, but i used my tan colored organic all natural sugar – and well, i’m pretty certain that may have been the problem.  the small saucepan of simple caramelized syrup felt wrong from the get go.  it never did what it was supposed to do – as in truly caramelize – and then it was really thick and even at a dangerously hot temperature the stuff wouldn’t swirl much.  so i now had a glug of it stuck on the bottom of each small white dish.  then i made a second batch that was marginally better – and put that on top of the darker ‘glug of sugar’ and coated the sides… but this was just not right – and i knew it. 

but hey, no prob.  because after ignoring my intuition, i  went on to rationalize that when i place the 6 little ramekins in their hot water bath and then bake the custards in the oven – it’ll all melt and get liquidity, right?  nope.  when it was time to ‘unmold the suckers – they were not budging.  so out came the big guns – meaning the handy dandy kitchen blow torch.

and do you know what happens when you flip a ramekin upside down and hold a blow torch to it for say 2 minutes?

i wish i’d taken a picture.  i almost did.  but i was so disappointed in my lack of culinary acumen, that i just let it all go, deciding against the photo op – my final bad call in the saga of ‘the flan gone wrong’.. 

i gotta say that the explosion truly was a bit unsettling and although my ego was ever so slightly bruised, luckily we all escaped unscathed from the flying shrapnel.

i’m over it now.

Tags: bad · dessert

44 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Robert // Apr 23, 2008 at 1:55 pm


    Finally. the exploding dessert story……
    Glad all survived.

  • 2 Kitt // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Ha! You know, I’ve made Bayless’ flan, and the first time I thought all the caramel was supposed to come out of the ramekin, too. But no, it really doesn’t. You just have a very light coating of it on the surface of the flan, but most of it stays in the cup and is a devil to clean out. I figured that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

    Sorry about the blowtorch mishap!

  • 3 Lauren // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    ouch! what a bummer. i would have like to see the pictures though.

  • 4 Celine // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    good to hear no one was harmed! but yeah, I hate it when things don’t go right in the kitchen.

  • 5 Lesley // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Glad you lived to tell the tale.

    Some things are best left to the experts. I recommend a little place over on Nolensville Road. :)

  • 6 fluffernutter // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    From one destroya to anotha, let me say it can happen to anyone.

  • 7 Chris // Apr 23, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Glad to hear that no one was injured.
    Sugar at those temperatures can melt the hide off an elephant…

  • 8 amy @ minimally invasive // Apr 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    You really should invite Bear Grylls over for dinner sometime.

  • 9 Diana // Apr 23, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    A ceF public service announcement! Thank you for showing us what happens when you over-brulee. I’ve been using a light touch, but I’ve always been curious about what would happen if I torched the heck out of it.

  • 10 mari // Apr 23, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    It happens to the best of us, but I hate it when my dessert flops, it’s like having sex without an orgasm, truly ghastly!! LOL!

  • 11 Vincent // Apr 23, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    You gotta laugh when that shit happens! Scraped flan off of the cabinetry is better than no flan at all.

  • 12 Kate // Apr 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Wow, now this sounds like something that would happen to me in the kitchen! Glad you didn’t get hurt

    (Love Mari’s comment – ha!)

  • 13 evil chef mom // Apr 23, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I see the sisters Cooking and Baking Goddess hit your house too. They are mean and fickle. I wish you would have posted the pictures!

  • 14 joycooks // Apr 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    you know what I like most about this post? your tags: ‘bad’ & ‘dessert’. tee hee. You know, in my humble opinion on all things sugar, it was indeed the fact that you didn’t use the nasty white stuff, for that is all we ever use in the pastry dept… must be a reason? also, these water bath desserts in ramekins are very tricky and are not for the faint of heart.

  • 15 joycooks // Apr 23, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    …didn’t mean to imply that YOU were faint of heart, claudia. we all know that’s not true. nevermind. i love blowtorches too, the end.

  • 16 lucy // Apr 23, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    yikes. glad you made it out alive :)

  • 17 Peter // Apr 23, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Sounds like quite the conflangration. I wish you’d been rolling video for that one; it would look great on JewTube: “When desserts attack! Things you should have listened to your Grandmother about when she warned you!”

    Next time, how about maybe some nice rugelach? Nobody ever almost died making that.

    Although you could possibly choke eating it.

  • 18 melissa // Apr 23, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    great story. you’re quite the stubborn one, aren’tcha. 😉

    found this thanks to krysta aka evil chef mom. if you’ve never read this, you should. hysterical. well, in retrospect, of course.


  • 19 Mary Coleman // Apr 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I hope you were wearing goggles at the time!!
    What a visual!

  • 20 The Italian Dish // Apr 23, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Oh. My. God. You make me laugh so hard. Every time. I can’t help it, but I’m so glad stuff like that happens to you, too.

  • 21 Simply Gluten-free // Apr 23, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    LOL! Glad you surviuved. I really wish you had taken a picture – would have loved to see it. Oops, gotta go, something is burning in my kitchen!

  • 22 Undomestic Diva // Apr 23, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    OH. MY. GOD.

    I can’t cook, so I probably shouldn’t be here, out-of-my-realm and therefore out-of-my-comfort-zone, but I had to tell you how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your banner. Seriously.

    Also, not sure what you’re fretting over – whatever that stuff is in the pic looks pretty to me. It’s waaaay above me.

    Love the site.

  • 23 RecipeGirl // Apr 24, 2008 at 12:37 am

    I love it. Thank you for sharing about your disaster!!

    I don’t have one of those blow torch thingies yet but I can totally see myself doing something like that!

  • 24 Lynn // Apr 24, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Even your disasters are fabulous. There’s a word for girls like you. 😉

  • 25 jim voorhies // Apr 24, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Ya know, they sell these little boxes of flan mix in the store that work flawlessly. (I know, I’m an ass…) Glad you weren’t hurt.

  • 26 Emily Walters // Apr 24, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I am so glad to know I am not the only one who does things like this.

    I spotted you at the concert last night, hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did!

  • 27 The Urban Eater // Apr 24, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Yeah, I don’t know how I would have handled that situation. I’ve never made flan, simply b/c I’m not big on the custard textures.
    I do wish I could have seen it, though!

  • 28 Donald // Apr 24, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Wow, flan go boom?

    How did it taste?

  • 29 Ethel // Apr 24, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    If I were there in the kitchen with the stuck caramel I’d just take my undainty finger and keep licking down to the bottom of the ramekin, or pot. And have the best time getting it unglued.

  • 30 Laura @ Hungry and Frozen // Apr 24, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Good grief! So will you tackle them again? Or are you truly over it in every sense of the word? Understandable, given the circumstances :)

  • 31 ponyboat // Apr 24, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    This is unacceptable. Crimes against flan. There oughtta be a law.

    Try a loaf pan next time, slice it like they do in Cuba. Not sure it would have prevented the glob of goo, but at least you can’t blow up a loaf pan with a torch!

  • 32 Stephanie // Apr 24, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    That’s what I call guerrilla cooking! I won’t even go into the unfortunate story of my kitchen blow torch, my apron and the Pyrex dish.

  • 33 Lesley // Apr 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    You laugh, Jim, but I’ve made flan from a box. Mini-flans, actually in a non-stick muffin pan. No mess and not bad. Certainly not worse than what’s served at most Tex-Mex restaurants!

    But that was well over a decade ago and I much prefer tres leches.

  • 34 yveala // Apr 24, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    well fellow fretter, it’s been a while since i’ve commented and i’m not here to comment on todays entry.
    i’m proud to say that a few nights ago i hosted a passover seder for 36 and although you were not there, your influence was strong.
    minutes after deciding to make this important, traditional evening i headed for your site.
    salted chicken, 300 minute eggs, red cabbage salad were included in my extensive menu. searching your site, along with the blogs of those you respect and recommend gave me countless ideas to make the food part of my evening a success (if i do say so myself).
    so although the flan looks marvelous and i hope to make it one day – this non flan comment is to tell you that you’re insights, ideas and recommendations (basically your blog) have helped me tremendously and i think you’re fabulous!

  • 35 Kim // Apr 25, 2008 at 5:32 am

    Oh how I wish you had a picture for us. Glad you survived the mishap.

  • 36 Nicole // Apr 25, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Sorry it didn’t work out, but I definitely had a good laugh. Sorry that it was at your expense and I’m glad you are okay.

  • 37 lifeinrecipes // Apr 25, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I hate those kinds of surprises. I almost lost an eye from my seemingly innocent little mokka espresso pot when the metal puck inside unscrewed and fired off.

  • 38 Jessica // Apr 25, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Thats gotta be a show stopper! I bet the picture was awesome!

  • 39 michelle @ TNS // Apr 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    i’m really disappointed in the lack of photo. i mean, come on now. what are we here for?

  • 40 claudia // Apr 27, 2008 at 12:16 am

    for all my fantastic friends – flan was not the victor here. for there will be a fine flan forthcoming in the future.

    fondly, ceF

  • 41 naomi // Apr 27, 2008 at 4:09 am

    A good story is worth a thousand photos, just think of it as personal growth. I guess you ate the rest with a spoon?

    x x x

  • 42 giz // Apr 27, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    You did cook….you did fret – you didn’t eat…damn.

  • 43 maybelles mom // Apr 29, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    well, they say it isn’t a party until a dessert explodes….but it was a funny write up.

  • 44 Ann // May 4, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Not that I think you need more evidence for the explosion – but you’re right – that really would’ve been a great picture. I would say “maybe next time”, but that would be totally inappropriate – but no less fun to say. Great story – and I wish you much better luck next time. :)

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